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Trial Of Crimean Journalist Semena Set To Resume In Simferopol

Crimean journalist Mykola Semena (file photo)
Crimean journalist Mykola Semena (file photo)

Russian-appointed judges at a court in Ukraine's occupied Crimea region are scheduled to conduct a new hearing on August 3 in the trial of Mykola Semena, an RFE/RL contributor who is fighting what he says is a politically motivated separatism charge.

The judge at the trial in the Crimean capital, Simferopol, agreed at the last hearing on July 18 to include the UN General Assembly's December 2016 resolution on human rights in Crimea -- which was seized by Russia in 2014 -- in the case documents.

While testifying at the hearing, witnesses and experts called by the defense also sought to discredit the results of a linguistic examination conducted by Olga Ivanova of the Crimean branch of Russia’s FSB security service.

The charge against the 66-year-old Semena stems from an article he wrote for RFE/RL's Krym.Realii (Crimea Realities) website in 2015.

The Kremlin-installed prosecutor in Crimea charged that the article had called for the violation of Russia’s territorial integrity.

But linguist Elena Novozhilova said that she had found many mistakes in Ivanova's examination of Semena’s article. She testified that, in her opinion, the article does not contain any calls for the violation of Russia's territorial integrity.

Semena’s trial has been delayed several times since it started in late March.

Semena faces up to five years in prison if convicted.

He contends that the accusation is baseless and politically motivated, and that Russian authorities have based the case on an inaccurate Russian translation of his original Ukrainian text.

Activists say Semena's trial is part of a systemic Russian clampdown on independent media and dissent in Crimea since Moscow's armed occupation and takeover of the Ukrainian region.